Gotta Give Wix a Wow

Posted: November 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

As a creative director, I had often been asked if I could create a website for a client. My answer was always “sure” but it is going to be expensive. After all, I had to hire a web designer and supervise their work, give them copy, page layouts and lots of direction. They in turn had to hire a web programmer who would usually hire a bunch of low paid slaves in some Eastern European country to actually do the programing. All of this would take weeks and eventually the client would get their website. The only problem was they would then have to hire a webmaster to make any changes or updates.

That’s all history, now that I am using Wix. Not only do I find Wix totally creatively based and simple. It’s incredibly intuitive and mind blowing in it’s ability to work with a less than nerdy creative person like me.

I’ve now created a half dozen websites which I have successfully turned over to my gleeful clients, who find administering their sites simple and fun. Wix is also incredibly affordable and I have found their customer service really great.

With all those accolades one might think that Wix is paying me the big bucks to promote their site. Not true, but should they want to shove a few bucks my way, I say go ahead.

Matthew-McConaughey-Lincoln-001

Sometimes, ya know, ya have to go backwards to move forwards. You know I’ve been writing ads since before I got paid to write ads.

Sure it may sound silly, but the use of celebrities as paid endorsers has been a tried and true method of gaining market share since Moses pitched the burning bush idea. Today, as our gen “X” and “Y” consumers continue to throw their weight around celebrity endorsements have to be handled differently. Take the new Lincoln campaign. No real pitch copy here, just a bunch of random thoughts from a handsome Hollywood hunk. Shouldn’t work right? Well guess again, Lincoln sales have shot up 35% since Mat got behind their wheel. Even South Park took notice, putting Mat behind the wheel of a Zip Car in a hilarious spoof. What ever the reason, celebrity and market share have always been partners in an imperfect marriage.

FNX9YZBGWTSNMHC.LARGEMaybe it’s me, but lately it seems advertising has been broken down into two distinct categories: Art Director Ads and Copywriter Ads.
My philosophy has always been that the best and most creative advertising is a result of the merging of the visual creativity and great storytelling. If you think about the greatest advertising concepts ever created these teamwork is evident. Think about David Ogilvy’s Volkswagen campaign. Brilliant type and art direction combined with clear cut genius thinking and a minimum of copy.
Compare that with today’s ads and it becomes evident that each ad is the result of either the art director directing everything or the copywriter telling a story with no regard to any visual component. The result is advertising that falls far short of greatness.

remember nov 11 2014

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard the expression: “It’s not creative unless it sells”. Sure, advertising is a competitive sales derby. If the ads you create don’t drive your client’s business your client will soon be out of business. But with the amount of advertising created every day there are sure to be winners and losers. For anyone to assume that the best ad from a creative perspective always wins is not just folly, it’s unfair.

As a creative director it is my job to decide which campaign we will push forward and which ideas end up in the teeth of the paper shredder. Sometimes I choose a winner and unfortunately, sometimes I am coerced by the pure genius of an idea. That’s just part of the gig. In an ideal world people would find the most creative approaches the most appealing but in reality many times a simple strategy that points out the product or services inherent best qualities is the way to go.

What would David Ogilvy tweet?

In my years of experience, I have always been a stickler for type. I love the way type can create a mood, set a tone and call a viewer to attention. I can remember sitting for hours with art directors kerning, spacing and changing type styles in order to make print ads stand out on the page. I always tried to match the style of the type to the message of the ad.
But I may have been dead wrong.
Psychologists at Princeton University have found that students remembered reading materials far better when it was printed in an ugly font.
As with most research the reasons seemed unclear, but was evident were the results.
It brings into question the age-old art of typesetting and it offers an opportunity to tune your type to this newly unveiled research.

Recent statistical sales figures from the American Bureau of Statics indicates that the over 55 age group now accounts for the highest dollar for dollar expenditures than any other group.
That should send a strong message to any advertising agency: “Get your head around those grey heads”.
As a creative director for almost 40 years, I have noticed that in the past few years ad agencies seem to scoff at anyone with a touch of grey. Consulting with agencies across North America I am often surprised by the lack of senior creative people. It only makes sense that if ad agencies want to create marketing campaigns that attract more senior buyers, they would employ some senior minds in the creative process. Sure, agencies are consumed with being hip and with it, but with so many dollars at stake shouldn’t they glance backwards and develop campaigns that stimulate the 55 plus market?
Next time you sit down for a brainstorming why not involve some older and perhaps wiser creatives in your psyche?
Ignoring this major profit engine can only lead to weak creative solutions that are more concerned with what’s hot rather than what works.

As a writer, nothing makes me feel warm and fuzzy more than great copy. But how do you stimulate your creative thinking and get the right words on the page?
My suggestion is that you think about your copy as you would think about making love. Start with some foreplay, massage the words so as to entice the reader to want more. Slowly, carefully choose every word as you would if you were enticing a lover.
After the foreplay, start thinking about what your partner needs….the reader wants to be seduced so craft your copy so it becomes as satisfying as a warm kiss.
Next start to put yourself and your desires into the copy. What do you want your partner (the reader) to do, how do you want them to think? How can you convince them to become involved to the point they can not escape?
Now comes the finale, You’ve brought them to the point where they want to embrace the moment. Make them reach out and put their own soul into the mix.
This is copy that compels. These are words that create a reaction. Don’t be afraid to make passionate love to your reader and you will be rewarded with reactions that satisfy both you and your client.

While on a visit to a small ad agency I was impressed to see their huge collection of Communication Arts magazines, Awards annuals and reams of other awards books.
“Inspiration” I thought. But boy was I wrong. It seems this library of award winners was not there for stimulating new ideas but rather it was fodder for their creative copying.
As I watched, all of the creative people thumbed their way through various issues every time they received a creative assignment. They tore, they copied, they scanned…before they ever sat down to think or brainstorm.
At one point I overheard the creative director and a writer arguing. The creative director clutched a tear of a series of ads in one hand and screamed at the writer saying: “here…here’s the idea. Just take this and rip it off”.
The writer seemed a bit stunned and replied ” Ya but it’s been done” . To which the CD replied “ya but you’ve never done it”.
Sadly, stealing other people’s ideas is a curse that is far too prevalent in the ad biz.
So here’s my solution. Before you set creatives on their task of creating new ideas, sit down and show them everything you can find that is relevant and HAS BEEN DONE!
Then, discuss the merits of these previously thought through campaigns. Finally, send the creatives off inspired by brilliant work and make one thing clear: You want something better, newer, more creative than any of the campaigns they have just reviewed.
Don’t settle for anything less than new solutions rooted in the history of the brilliant.